Mittens Mattered

Dan Kadlec
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readAug 2, 2023


Are we being warped by a social feed full of RIPs for pets and pop stars?

goldfish in a bowl
Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

One of the indignities of being 60-plus is the number of people in your life that pass away. What starts as a trickle quickens to a stream — in my case, much like the number of times I walk into a room and forget why the heck I went there.

“The laundry is dry,” I tell Kim, setting a basket of warm towels before her like Violante Visconti’s dowry.

“Oh, gee, thanks,” she says. “Now hand me the screwdriver you went downstairs to fetch and let’s hang this picture.”

“Dang. I’ll be right back.”

In any such lapse, I recall soon enough that I was, say, getting a postage stamp from the top drawer before a seductive pile of 2032 batteries reminded me my car fob had gone dead, prompting a change of mission. Eventually, I return for the stamp — otherwise I’d worry. I don’t. It’s normal.

Besides, the extra steps get me closer to 10,000 which, according to the preloaded app on my iPhone, is good for me — so long as my knee isn’t acting up. Sheesh. I never expected to be here. In my head, but nowhere else, I can crush the latest dance on TikTok. Sixty-plus is an undeniable new challenge; smiling is the best antidote.

Smiling isn’t so easy, though, when you or someone near you loses a loved one, even if we’re just talking about a friend’s cat. Mittens mattered. You know this because Mittens’ life story in pictures now clogs your social feed. Everyday. For weeks.

I’m never sure how to respond. “Sorry for your loss” seems too human for an animal. I usually just click through while quietly wishing the grieving owner would have uploaded one good photo — not a Shuttefly extravaganza — even though truly Mittens was cute AF.

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened “ — Winston Churchill

Mourning a lost pet sometimes goes way too far. A day off to feel sad and post enough pictures to crash Instagram may be in order. But skipping the company offsite…



Dan Kadlec
Human Parts

Dan is writing a memoir about his early years as a small-town journalist, when he was running with cops by day and from them by night.